Airbnb has bought the HotelTonight booking platform as it ramps up its expansion into the traditional accommodation sector.
The homeshare leader says the acquisition gives it the chance to “accelerate our work to build an end-to-end travel platform that serves everyone”.
HotelTonight offers discounts at hotels across Australia, the Americas and Europe, partnering with properties to offer unsold rooms and catering to business travellers or those looking to make last-minute bookings.
Airbnb argues HotelTonight’s relationship with boutique hotels will make it easier for Airbnbers to find accommodation at short notice.
“The availability of boutique hotels – in addition to private rooms and entire homes that are instantly bookable – helps ensure authentic, high-quality stays are available on-demand, especially at the last minute,” said a spokesperson.
The sale follows speculation Airbnb was considering developing a rival version of the hotel booking service as it looks to position itself as a serious competitor to the US online travel agencies which dominate accommodation bookings globally.
Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky has previously stated that the company is “100 percent battling online travel agencies,” for a larger piece of the accommodation booking pie.
The company’s long-term ambition is to build an end-to-end travel platform complete with home sharing, hotel booking, business travel arrangements, experiences and whatever else is required for a complete bookings package.Last month it hired Virgin America founder Fred Reid to help conceptualise an end-to-end travel offering partnering with transport companies.
While the company says the HotelTonight purchase is also about developing the end-to-end concept, details about exactly how either will contribute remain sketchy.
Under the new arrangement, the HotelTonight app and website will continue to operate, with CEO and co-founder Sam Shank running all boutique hotel business and reporting to president of homes at Airbnb, Greg Greeley. All but a handful of HotelTonight staff will remain in their roles.
Shank says: “We started HotelTonight because we knew people wanted a better way to book an amazing hotel room on-demand, and we are excited to join forces with Airbnb to bring this service to guests around the world.
“Together, HotelTonight and Airbnb can give guests more choices and the world’s best boutique and independent hotels a genuine partner to connect them with those guests.”
The expansion comes as Airbnb is expected to complete an initial public offering later this year.
Since Airbnb introduced boutique hotels to its platform in early 2018 it has seen explosive growth and more than doubled listings for boutique hotels, bed and breakfasts, hostels and resorts available.
Its 2014-launched business travel unit, Airbnb for Work, now accounts for 15 percent of business bookings globally.